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6 Ways to Go Green for Baby

 

As a pediatrician and a parent of three boys, I have seen products change and the world evolve into a more environmentally friendly place to raise children. With each of my boys, I’ve established a healthier living environment, but also worked on modeling the message that we need to protect our environment and respect it.

Now that I’m a more earth-friendly mom, I’m giving the same advice to my patients, and helping them go green inside and outside their home. From avoiding harsh chemicals in cleaning products to eating more organic and sustainable foods, here’s 6 tips for creating a sustainable home and raising children to care about the environment.

  1. Volunteer! Actions speak louder than words. Model for your children that protecting the earth is important by volunteering with them in environmentally friendly projects.
  2. Choose organic foods. Organically grown foods are grown without use of fertilizers, genetically modified foods, radiation or synthetic pesticides, and these foods are naturally non-gmo. And luckily, choosing organic food for your family has never been easier. Start your baby off right by using organic ingredients early on for first foods. If you are making your own baby food, choose organic ingredients. If you are buying baby/kid food, there’s plenty of organic tasty options that expose little ones to a variety of tastes and textures, from brands like Ella’s Kitchen.
  3. Create a sustainable nursery. When choosing the paint and furniture for your child's bedroom, make sure your choices are free of harmful chemicals. Look for products that are VOC-free and open the windows after painting. The same mindful choices go for everything in the room – including your crib mattress. As babies grow and rollovers happen, it is important to look for a ‘breathable’ mattress vs. organic. Conventional, and even organic mattresses, are typically covered with a waterproof cover that contain PVCs that your child is breathing in so it is important to choose a mattress that does not off gas any noxious chemicals. Choose a mattress that is made from
    food grade polymers and 90% air like The Wovenaire Crib Mattress by Newton, which is 100% sustainable and better yet, washable.
  4. Avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning your home. Conventional cleaning products are filled with chemicals that are known respiratory toxicants, allergens, neurotoxins and carcinogens. It’s not healthy for you or your children to regularly breathe in. Choose products that are formulated with plant-based ingredients and that disclose all of their ingredients. Are you a do it yourself kind of gal? Fill a spray bottle filled with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. Non-toxic and effective! If not, there’s some great safe, off-the-shelf options from brands like Seventh Generation or dapple.
  5. Choose carefully when it comes to soaps, detergents and lotions. Choose fragrance free products for washing you little one’s clothing. The fragrance in many products can contain harmful chemicals and irritate your little ones skin. If you’re love a sweet smell, giggle’s new line of lotions & potions uses safe, plant-based ingredients in its bath and body products. However, if the fragrance seems to be irritating your baby's skin then a fragrnace-free option may be best. You can discuss this with your pediatrician if you have concerns.
  6. Avoid plastics. Many types of plastic bottles or food storage containers, both disposable ones and reusable ones, contain synthetic chemicals such as BPA and other toxicants. When storing or buying baby food, choose glass or stainless steel containers, both of which to not emit any gasses or chemicals. If you’re a busy mom on the go, don’t be afraid of using pouches, some of which are actually also recyclable – Ella’s Kitchen and several other brands work with the baby food pouch recycling program Terracycle. You are helping the earth, protecting your children, and you can also save money as well by not buying disposable plastic containers.

When it comes to my boy’s - and my patients’ -- health, I always take the better safe than sorry approach. Exposure to toxins in foods, cleaning products or other areas can have long-term effects on the developing child. Scientists still don’t understand the full impact of these chemicals, but these simple steps -- think of it as “environmental childproofing” -- can help protect your family.

Original illustration by Talia Handler for Well Rounded NY.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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